Zino Francescatti

June 6, 2007 at 01:27 AM · what does everyone here think of Zino Francescatti? Personally, I love the way he plays violin. I love his singing, unique tone and vibrato, and how wonderful unique sense of phrasing (listen to his Chausson Poeme).

Replies (48)

June 6, 2007 at 04:15 AM · Greetings,

but Joel, I think you missed the best one!

His first recording , that of the Lalo is one of the most perfectly sublime versions of this work,



June 6, 2007 at 06:09 AM · One of my favorites for Mozart and Beethoven concerti.

June 6, 2007 at 11:35 AM · I really like Francescatti's playing. He also gets my vote for "The Guy On 'The Art of the Violin' That I'd Most Like To Hang Out With"! He seems to have been a delightful man.

I have the 2 disc set "Zino Francescatti: Great Violin Concertos", and the Mendelssohn is really nice. His Chausson Poeme is just lovely.

June 6, 2007 at 01:11 PM · Bravo. One of my all-time favorites, too. The Beethoven/Ormandy is my favorite reading of my favorite violin concerto. And don't forget his Tchaikovsky. There are some passages (like the exciting buildup to the first climactic orchestral rendering of the main theme) that he plays better than anyone else (Heifetz included). In that 2-CD set, there is also the Prokofiev #2 Concerto, a startling beautiful and thrilling performance.

I was privileged to hear him live, once. He played the Mendelssohn with the Chicago Symphony. It was vintage Francescatti, and note perfect. He also had a very genuine stage presence, straightforward with no muss or fuss. He projects a feeling of warmth and genuineness in his playing, and he really connected not only with the audience but also with (I think) the orchestra.

On a business trip years ago in the late 1950's, my dad saw him play the Brahms in (I think) Philadelphia. He said that everyone walked out of that auditorium seeing stars.

One of the greats indeed.


June 6, 2007 at 02:37 PM · My favorite clip on "Great Violinists of the Bell Telephone Hour" is Francescatti's tender, soulful performance of "The Girl With the Flaxen Hair." He's definitely on my short list of all-time favorite violinists.

June 6, 2007 at 03:17 PM ·

June 6, 2007 at 03:17 PM ·

June 6, 2007 at 03:14 PM · I love this subject. Anything he did with Robert Casadesus was amazing...Franck or Beethoven...amazing. perfect example of continuous vibrato. apparantly his wide vibrato carried extremely well in the hall...Mr. Preucil (who worked with Francescatti) told me that his violin was maybe one of the best strads out there...

June 6, 2007 at 05:30 PM · Hello Everyone,

I thought I ought to mention his recording of the Ravel Tzigane -- it is one of the most spectacular interpretations I've heard yet.



June 6, 2007 at 10:42 PM · Greetings,

it`s also a must listen for anyone studying the work since he perfomre dit frequnelty with the composer,



June 7, 2007 at 01:59 AM · Francescatti was incredible... his tone just makes my day every time I listen to a recording of his playing. Nobody has that sound. His recording of the Havanaise is one of my all time favorites-- absolutely spellbinding.

June 7, 2007 at 12:14 PM · I am so glad Kevin brought up Robert Casadesus. The Beethoven sonatas they recorded together were the first I owned, and I still adore them.

Speaking of, Casadesus wrote a piece for Francescatti called "Hommage a Chausson" Op. 51, for violin and piano. I picked up the music years ago on a lark, and it is really pretty. My edition is International.

June 7, 2007 at 12:48 PM · One of the greats for sure!! I second Buri in that Lalo - just spectacular. If I can add something to that list, I would say that his recording or the Walton is a must. In the last movement he spins that first singing theme in one of the longest most beautiful lines ever. It seems endless - never is a bow change heard; only seemingly endless music!


June 7, 2007 at 02:14 PM · I like the shot of Francescatti in his garden, in 'The Art of Violin', with him grinning and talking about how he is a mad keen gardener. Ivry Gitlis mentions with a smile how he had such a sunny, Mediterranean character and tone. Probably my number one favorite violinist, if I was forced at gunpoint to admit to such a thing; or at least he and Milstein are my two best favorites.

June 7, 2007 at 04:47 PM · don't forget the recording of the Chausson concerto for violin, piano and quartet...

June 7, 2007 at 06:32 PM · I've asked this before, but considering that Francescatti's teachers were primarily his father and mother, and considering that his father (Fortunato) studied with Sivori, and considering that Sivori was practically the only traditional pupil that Paganini had....could it be that at least part of Zino Francescatti's uniqueness was actually the influence of Paganini himself? Anyone out there think that that is even possible?


June 7, 2007 at 08:35 PM · I agree. Paganini was known for his "trade" secrets and I believe it was Ernst who even spied on Paganini while he practiced. I'm sure Francescatti picked up on some of those tricks through Sivori.

June 7, 2007 at 10:55 PM · That is a plausible theory, but i think it comes down to the fact that Zino Francescatti was born to play the violin. His tone is unique even for the time period he was in. It was beautiful, sweet when necessary, and had surprising grandeur for someone who is often described as 'charming' violinistically, as 'charming' is not a term one usually associates with heaven-storming grandeur. Francescatti's bowarm was a force of nature and his interpretations were always gallic, never forced or brusque. His technique was so evenly calibrated in such a way that it often takes effort to notice only one aspect of his remarkable playing, so easy is it to be drawn into the sum of its parts. He always performed with perfected musical taste and maturity. I grew up on his Vieuxtemps no.4 and Paganini no.1 as well as his Beethoven sonatas with Casadesus. He was indeed one of the very greats. His interviews in The Way They Play are also very very informative and i agree with his decision to retire at the age of seventy 'so as not to technically disintegrate in public.' Such strategic thinking showed a lot of sagacity as far as leaving a strong legacy behind.

June 9, 2007 at 12:24 PM · I would also like to mention Francescatti's sonata recordings with Robert Casadesus, all made with the goal of being a real duo IMO. Franck/Debussy and the Beethoven set are first-rate and the live 3 Brahms Sonatas (Library of Congress) are my favorites among the very good existing recordings of this works.

June 9, 2007 at 03:23 PM · International Music Company publishes a lot of scores with his fingering. I’ve got his Bruch Concert G minor. I’d like to hear everyone’s comments on Francescatti’s fingering. Thanks!

June 9, 2007 at 03:25 PM · I also love how he approaches Paganini caprices...he doesn't go for show, unlike many others and really "sings" this music instead of running around like a chicken wihtout a head.

The fingerings in the international editions are indeed his fingerings but he was known to change his fingerings and bowings frequently.

June 18, 2007 at 08:55 AM · one of my favorite recordings of the concerto Paganini in D-dur is from that violinist

June 18, 2007 at 09:39 AM · Some memories. Heard him play the Sebelius when I was a kid and was, of course, memorized. Got his autograph. He was very congenial and stressed how important it was for me to practice. My teacher, the concertmaster, or maybe the assistant concertmaster then, said he had never seen anyone shift as quickly. The Phoenix Gazzette ran his picture on the front page the next day with the headlines: “TAKE MY EYES INSTEAD”. The airlines wanted him to check his Strad in baggage.

June 18, 2007 at 02:06 PM · Great violinist!

It's a pity that his Strad went to Accardo.


June 18, 2007 at 03:32 PM · Why is it a pity? Accardo is an excellent violinist.

June 18, 2007 at 05:24 PM · Dear Nate,

Accardo for sure is (was) a good violinist but in Italy it seems that he is the only violinist who is able to play Paganini (I don't like the way he does). So I guess in Italy there are such a lot of violinists much better than Accardo who are no as famous as him.

If you read his book on violin (based only on his life and his successes) I would understand that there is better in this world!

June 18, 2007 at 07:50 PM · What if there are better violinists than Accardo? There are better violins than the Hart too.

June 18, 2007 at 09:38 PM · really? William Preucil, who studied with Francescatti, told me that the Hart was one of the greatest strads he has ever heard....

June 19, 2007 at 10:50 AM · Hi,

Kevin - I think that this was not the point - rather that Accardo's playing should not be slighted, just as the Hart is one of the great Strads, and Francescatti one of the fabulous violinists of the 20th century (I seem to remember through the years how much you are a huge fan of his playing, as am I, as you remember, I am sure).


June 19, 2007 at 03:00 AM · Il etait merveilleux et de plus Francais ! :)

June 19, 2007 at 03:44 AM · Oui!

June 19, 2007 at 01:03 PM · Christian -

The post mentioned before mine says that there are "better violins than the Hart"...that was the one i was talking about. I get the other stuff about accardo etc...I just heard from many people that the Hart was one the best.

June 19, 2007 at 05:15 PM · Hi,

Kevin - you are right - I read too fast...


June 19, 2007 at 06:08 PM · It's all good old buddy... :)

June 20, 2007 at 06:54 PM · Oh, are you talking about me? :)

While the Hart might be one of the better strads it is mostly a matter of personal taste. When Accardo was in his prime he was one of the best Italian violinist. He was perhaps not The Violinist of the World, but he certainly

was good enough for the Hart. And his playing style was more like Francescattis than any of his Italian compariots, so I suppose that he was the best choise.

August 5, 2007 at 03:49 AM · "however, Francescatti was certainly among the elites of a list that for me reads like this(chronologically by date of birth: Kreisler, Elman, Heifetz,Francescatti, Milstein, Oistrakh, Menuhin, Szeryng, Stern,Grumiaux, Kogan, and Perlman."

how about christian ferras?

August 6, 2007 at 08:15 PM · Francescatti has always been one of my absolute favorites. I have a rare recording of the Paganini D Major Concerto with Francescatti and Los Angeles Philharmonic. It is fantastic! Such creativty and passion but with superb control of the bow.

I know one of his former pupils who tell me he was the most generous teacher and person. A friend studied with him when he was very young. He'd secretly put some $ in the student's case when not looking so the student can buy a reward after a very hard and successful lesson. Lessons went on for hours without monitoring the clock and he just shared so much wisdom.

I think Nina Bodnar and Bill Preucil both studied with him and aren't they lucky?

August 7, 2007 at 02:59 AM · Many of you have rightfully acknowledged the greatness and generosity of Francescatti as both a human being and player. On recordings, I am always struck by his very personal vibrato combined with an intensity and connectedness in the bow that always gave his tone tremendous vitality and vigor. This seemed to remain undiminished even in later years unlike many violinists whose vibrato and tone became wobbly and unreliable. There is a wonderful recording of his last concert given on December 16th, 1975 in New York playing the Saint-Saens third concerto that I hope is still available for all to appreciate. His calling card debuting in the US was the Paganini first concerto and his singing style and sense of timing with this piece exemplified in the recording with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra still is my my favorite. His chamber music recordings with Casadesus are justly lauded and the live performance on video in later years playing the Beethoven "Kreutzer" Sonata shows him still in top form. It is true there are those who have fewer blemishes in their performances of the Paganini caprices these days, but none who play with more heart and lyricism. His live performance on video of Bazzini's Ronde des lutins would still pass muster in today's perfection oriented world. One can observe on video that his stance on the violin and highly pronated bow arm are not the norm today but his prodigious gifts allowed him to overcome what some would characterize as questionable posture and bowing far better than say Szigeti and Menuhin managed. Above all, he was a consummate musician, playing with taste, elegance, and with judicious intellect. He will always remain in the violinists' pantheon- an immortal master.

January 10, 2014 at 06:18 PM · Here are two of the 20th century’s violin virtuosi performing one of the most famous violin pieces: Saint-Saens Introduction and Rondo.

Stern gives a humble and honest rendering of the score and he is sublime in his simplicity and passion. Francescatti on the other hand begins with a sweet French tone and then carries on with a capricious élan throughout the Rondo





I’d be interested in any views on these two violinists’ interpretations of this piece.

January 10, 2014 at 08:42 PM · Glad to see this discussion updated (from 6 years ago???). I just reviewed all of the comments. They could have been written this morning. That's what happens when you discuss timeless music played by a timeless artist.

Bravo, Zino Francescatti !!!

January 10, 2014 at 10:11 PM · Greetings,

I scrolled through all these old comments and was surprised to find only one mention of his recording of the Walton concerto by Christian. I heard this for the first time a couple of weeks ago and was just amazed. Its not exactly your typical Walton interpretation we are used to. Not the cynical and quirky side but endless singing lines like Gitlis saying `Francescatti was like the sun coming out.`

It reminded me that at the end of his life Walton too, followed the sun. Indeed he was sitting in the front row of a concert I played in in Amalfi where the stage was hanging off the side of a mountain over the meditteranean. An old geezer enjoying the sunshine.

I`m sure he loved Francescatti`s performance.



January 11, 2014 at 12:47 AM · Hi,

How wonderful that you bring attention to Fransescatti. I sometimes fear that the violinists will be talked about less and less. Like Grumiaux for example. The singing quality of their tradition is what made me fall in love with the violin.


January 11, 2014 at 01:54 AM · Great video footage with Francescatti playing Bazzini:


but appears his bow was extremely warped! Doesn't look like wide-angle lens distortion to me. Maybe he chose a warped bow to aid in spiccato in some way, or perhaps he just had such great control, the warpage didnt matter.

January 11, 2014 at 02:01 AM · In the spring of 3rd grade, my grade school set up the gym for kids to look at all sorts of instruments, so they could decide if they wanted to learn any. I chose the violin.

I went home and rummaged through my parents' records. I found one, played it, and fell in love with the sound on that recording -- even on a portable record player. The piece? The Mendelssohn concerto. The player? Zino Francescatti.

He made the music come alive for me. My folks recently gave us their record collection. I went back to that same record, after not having heard it for decades. Now that I know the Mendelssohn way better than a 3rd grader, and have heard lots of other performances, this performance still impresses me. For me, Francescatti was one of the masters.

January 11, 2014 at 02:02 AM · Oops: double post.

January 11, 2014 at 03:46 PM · One of my favorite Francescatti recordings is that of the Tschaikovsky Concerto. His G string tone is gargantuan and, in this finale, one of the most expansive renderings which I have ever heard. Does anyone now the name of the violin he used ?


PS the ending has as much speed as any I have heard.

January 12, 2014 at 10:37 PM · There are several available performances of Francescatti's Tchaikovsky. They're all great, but the one on that 2-CD set is in a class by itself.

And his recording of the Beethoven Concerto (1950, Ormandy, Philadelphia Orchestra) is to me one of the greatest works of performing art (both the piece and the performance) in all of Western culture.

His tempo is perfect. The pauses and accents here and there do not break the innate pulse of the music, and the Kreisler cadenzas are beyond spectacular.

And throughout he plays with his usual warmth combined with a sparkling technique and elegance. In short, he seems to make the music the center of attention, not himself. It's one heck of a performance. It's what they call "class."

January 13, 2014 at 03:50 AM · Being of a certain age, I was blessed with being able to attend live performances in the 1960s and 1970s of many of the greatest violinists in history who are no longer with us, including Milstein, Oistrakh, Kogan, Menuhin, Szeryng, Francescatti, Grumiaux and Stern (although I was not able to hear Kreisler, Elman, Heifetz, Szigeti or Rabin live). My memory of Francescatti is of an elegant violinist who had all the technical chops but also an exquisite tone. According to Applebaum and Roth in Book 6 of The Way They Play, Francescatti was more than just a great violinist, however: "He is a warm, gentle, kind person and all who know Francescatti love him. They love him as an artist...and they love him equally as a person". What more is there to say.

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